A middle-school teacher in Florida plans to erect a Satan display that will invite children to “hail Satan” during the upcoming Christmas season.
Preston Smith, a language arts teacher at Boca Raton Community Middle School, says he will build a large metal pentagram in Sanborn Square, a local park, along with a “Freedom from Religion Nativity Scene,” reports CBS12.
The pentagram, painted blood-red, weighs 300 pounds, and has a wood image of the symbol of Satan in its middle. It also contains a caption with several phrases: “In Satan We Trust;” “One Nation Under Antichrist;” and “May the Children Hail Satan.”
According to the news report, Smith describes himself as an atheistic Satanist.
Smith erected a similar display last December in the park, next to a traditional Nativity exhibit featuring the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus – an act that drew the ire of Christians and parents in the community.
According to WPTV, Kim Bremer, the president of the school’s parent-teacher association, said she wanted Smith dismissed from his teaching position.
“A teacher we entrust our children with should not be putting a sign like this anywhere,” she explained.
Another parent, Solange Bush, asked the school to have her 14-year-old son moved to another language arts class taught by another teacher, but said scheduling difficulties prevented the move.
“I just don’t feel comfortable about it and I don’t agree with it,” Bush said.
Smith said in a statement to WPTV last year that he does not “proselytize my own viewpoints in the classroom or disparage any child’s personal faith.”
He added he has no plans to step down from his teaching role, arguing that “students have an uncanny ability to be more tolerant, respectful, and educated about diversity than most adults.”
Nevertheless, Pastor Mark Boykin, senior pastor at Church of All Nations in Boca Raton, has vowed to tear down Smith’s display.
“I think this is reprehensible,” the pastor said, reportedly showing CBS12 his sledgehammer. “I think it’s an insult to our city.”
“It’s evil, it’s the essence of evil,” Boykin added. “I will take the responsibility for taking the sledgehammer and knocking it down.”
The CBS12 report notes that, in response to Boykin, Smith said “he has never experienced this level of hatred from supposedly religious folks who preach love, tolerance and acceptance.”
Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie said she personally found the display “extremely offensive.”
“But you know, again, we’ve chosen as the council to honor free speech,” she said.
Similarly, Scott Singer, a city council member, said, “This is not consistent with my particular values, but free speech means people have an opportunity to express themselves, whether government likes it or not or whether individuals like it or not.”